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וכי ימוך אחיך ומטה ידו עמך והחזקת בו

If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter on your proximity, you shall strengthen him. (25:35)

Strengthening a Jew who is confronted with economic challenges is a practical mitzvah. After all, if we ignore our brother’s plight, what good is our personal frumkeit, religious observance? A Jew whose observance is predicated upon his relationship with Hashem, while he simultaneously ignores the challenges that his brother must confront, is deluding himself. We are all one family. One cannot expect his brother to derive satisfaction from one son, when that very same son ignores the adversity suffered by his own brother. There is yet a deeper understanding of the mitzvah of supporting a fellow Jew who has come…

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וזרעתם את השנה השמינית

And you shall plant during the eighth year. (25:22)

Shemittah observance tests one’s spiritual devotion, as well as his emotional stability. It is difficult to observe the farmers around you planting and harvesting (either they are non-observant, or they rely on various dispensations), while your field lays fallow. It is hard to subsist on contributions from others who understand, respect and admire your commitment. One who is patient, who rises to the Shemittah challenge, who perseveres despite the taunting of others, however, will be blessed with extraordinary siyata diShmaya, Divine assistance. Not only will he not lose out as a result of his commitment to Shemittah, it will also…

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ושבתם איש אל אחזתו ואיש אל משפחתו תשבו

Each of you shall return to his ancestral heritage, and each of you shall return to his family. (25:10)

Freedom is a precious commodity of which not all people are availed. Thus, when one who had heretofore been a slave to a master, one whose life was essentially not his own, the first thing to enter his mind, the first thing for which he would yearn, would be: freedom; return to his family; his home; his original lifestyle. Yet, the Torah teaches us otherwise: “Each of you shall return to his ancestral heritage.” Does property precede family? Does material sustenance come before freedom? Horav Zalman Sorotzkin, zl, explains this from a practical point. People often lose their freedom as…

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והעברת שופר תרועה... ביום הכפורים תעבירו שופר בכל ארצכם... וקראתם דרור בארץ

You shall sound a broken blast on the Shofar… on Yom Kippur you shall sound the Shofar throughout the land… and you shall proclaim freedom throughout the land. (25:9,10)

The mitzvah of sounding the Shofar on Yom Kippur of the Yovel – fiftieth year – is unlike the mitzvah of sounding the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that on Rosh Hashanah, the purpose of the Shofar is to help us focus on the Akeidas Yitzchak, Binding of Yitzchak Avinu, thus encouraging us to think of his extraordinary ahavas Hashem, love for the Almighty. We, too, should learn from his example and thus imbue ourselves with love for Hashem, thereby increasing our merits on this day when all of Hashem’s creations are judged. On Yom Kippur of…

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אל תונו איש את אחיו

Do not aggrieve one another. (25:14)

The Torah details the prohibition against cheating a fellow Jew in business by overcharging. One should seek every avenue to help a fellow Jew – not to cheat him. What kind of person cheats his brother? This probably sounds like a naïve question. Obviously, one who has fallen so financially in arrears that his only way out is to take advantage of others who are unaware. What about bitachon, trust in Hashem? Horav Yitzchak Yaakov Ruderman, zl, explains that the answer is in the juxtaposition of the laws of onaah, cheating, upon the previous stated laws of shemittah, the seventh…

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לא תעבד בו עבדת עבד

You shall not work with him slave labor. (25:39)

The eved Ivri, Jewish bondsman/slave, is not a slave in the generally accepted sense of the word. He is an indentured servant, who, for a specific period of time, neither is free to do as he wants, nor to resign his employment. Nonetheless, their masters must treat them with such delicacy and consideration that Chazal (Kiddushin 20a) say, “One who purchases a (Jewish) slave for himself buys himself a master.” The master is forbidden to assign him to perform degrading work that would be relegated only to a slave. He is to be assigned skilled, dignified labor like hired help….

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ולא תונו איש את עמיתו

Each of you shall not aggrieve his fellow. (25:17)

Horav Shlomo Levinstein, Shlita, asks: What is the difference between a tzaddik, righteous person, and a chasid, pious person? Simply, a tzaddik follows halachah to the letter of the law. He is meticulous in his observance, never cutting corners, always doing exactly what is expected of him. A chasid goes the extra mile. He carries out mitzvos lifnim meshuras ha’din, beyond the letter of the law. Not only does he not look for shortcuts, but he also takes the longer, more strenuous route. The Kotzker Rebbe, zl, offers a powerful distinction between these two approaches toward serving Hashem. A tzaddik…

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וכי ימוך אחיך... והחזקת בו

If your brother becomes impoverished… you shall strengthen him. (25:35)

The Pele Yoetz writes: “Chesed, performing acts of kindness, is a pillar of the world. It is one of those mitzvos whose fruits are eaten in this world, but whose principal remains for him (generating reward) in Olam Habba, the World to Come.” The Chafetz Chaim writes that the performance of chesed can engender such incredible merit that it has the power to overwhelm the Middas HaDin, Attribute of Strict Justice. Rebbetzin Miriam Shmuelevitz, wife of the venerable Rosh Yeshivah of Mir Yerushalayim, was very involved in a successful chesed organization that reached out to Jews all over Yerushalayim. I…

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וידבר ד' אל משה בהר סיני

Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai. (25:1)

Mah inyan Shemittah eitzel Har Sinai –“What is the connection between Shemittah and Har Sinai?” has become the catch phrase when questioning why two disparate subjects are juxtaposed upon one another for no apparent reason. The Torah introduces the laws of Shemittah in detail immediately following the mention of the Revelation at Har Sinai. Chazal derive from here that not only the broad outlines, but also the details, the minutiae of Torah law and mitzvah, were transmitted at Sinai – as were those of Shemittah, whose laws are detailed extensively. All mitzvos, even those which were recorded years after the…

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ונתנה הארץ פריה ואכלתם לשבע... וכי תאמרו מה נאכל בשנה השביעית... וצויתי את ברכתי

The land will give its fruit and you will eat your fill… if you will say: “What will we eat in the seventh year?” I will ordain my blessing. (25:19, 20, 21)

Sforno distinguishes between the baal bitachon, one who trusts in Hashem, who does not question, “What will we eat in the seventh year?” and he who questions. The one who does not question will, indeed, have less produce; however, its nutritional value will far exceed that of a regular year. He will have less, but he will require less. Less will be more. His seventh year will be covered by the produce of the sixth year, but in a manner unperceived by the unknowing spectator who will observe a regular yield that year. The believer whose bitachon is not as…

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